Helen Lammers-Helps writes in Country Guide about Martin de Groot who operates an organic dairy in Moorefield, Ontario. With the milk from their 60-cow, mostly Holstein herd, de Groot, his wife Ineke Booy and their family make their Mapleton’s Organic line of ice creams and fresh and frozen yogurts in their on-farm dairy at Moorefield, shipping their winter surplus through Harmony Organic Dairy Products. A couple years ago de Groot added Lely robots. Read an excerpt below or the entire article here.
What they sell is much more, however, including a way of farming that has become a top priority for their customers, coupled with a policy of transparency that lets those customers roam the farm at will.
But that doesn’t mean he’s inefficient.
Two years ago when de Groot built a new barn, for instance, he chose a Lely robotic milking system for maximum cow comfort. “With a voluntary milking system, the cow can get milked when she wants to… most of them choose to be milked every six to seven hours,” he explains.
Yet it also means he can capture reams of data to help his herd management, making it easier to track heat cycles and mastitis, for example. And after 35 years, de Groot himself is freed from milking, so he can allocate his time where it pays the most.
De Groot’s cows do seem the epitome of relaxation as they chew their cuds while lounging on the compost bedding pack in the free-stall barn. But that bedding not only boosts cow comfort, it boost efficiency too, generating heat from the composting process to keep the barn warm in winter, explains de Groot.
Although the compost bedding pack isn’t common in Canada, it’s popular in Europe where there is more concern about greenhouse gas emissions, says de Groot. The aerobic composting process ties up the nutrients and prevents greenhouse gases from forming, which also means there is minimal smell.
Another co-comfort feature of the barn is the flexible feeding fence. The plastic uprights move with the cows allowing for access to the feed while preventing neck abrasions.
Cows also have access to a Luna Lely cow brush which allows them to get a good back scratch. They use it several times a day, making for a happier, healthier, more productive herd, says de Groot.
Read the entire article here.